Strong FIA WEC for Team WRT LMGT3, Yet challenging weekend for BMW M Team WRT Hypercar duo

The season-opener of the FIA World Endurance Championship took place at the Lusail International Circuit with the Qatar Airways Qatar 1812KM. A learning weekend for BMW M Team WRT and Team WRT teams in both Hypercar and LMGT3 categories. Even though, both BMW M Hybrid V8 finished out of the top 10, BMW M Team WRT collected a lot of data and finished the 10-hour race. In LMGT3 class, both crews made a strong race without mistakes. WEC rookie Valentino Rossi and his teammates Ahmad Al Harthy and Maxime Martin in the #46 BMW M4 GT3 finished just short of the podium in fourth. The #31 BMW M4 GT3 sister car, driven by Augusto Farfus, Sean Gelael and Darren Leung, made a strong come back from 14th to sixth place.

Number of cars on the grid: 37 (19 Hypercar’s, 18 LMGT3’s)
Manufacturers: 14
Number of WRT cars: 4 (2 Hypercar’s, 2 LMGT3’s)
335 laps in total for Hypercar winner, 299 for LMGT3 winner
Race – 10th hour: End of 10th hour: #20 in P12, #15 in P16, #46 in P4 (class), #31 in P6 (class)

Race results:
1. Estre – Lotterer – Vanthoor (Porsche 963), 335 laps
2. Ilott – Nato – Stevens (Porsche 963), +33.297
3. Campbell – Christensen – Makowiecki (Porsche 963), +34.396
4. Bamber – Bourdais – Lynn (Cadillac V-Series.R), + 1 lap
5. Kubica – Shwartzman – Ye (Ferrari 499P), + 1 lap
12. Frijns – Rast – van der Linde (BMW M Hybrid V8), + 3 laps
16. Marciello – Vanthoor – Wittmann (BMW M Hybrid V8), + 8 laps

1. Bachler – Malykhin – Sturm (Porsche 911 GT3 R), 299 laps
2. James – Mancinelli – Riberas (Aston Martin Vantage AMR), + 4.866
3. Bastard – Mateu – Sorensen (Aston Martin Vantage AMR), + 1 lap
4. Al Harthy – Martin – Rossi (BMW M4 GT3), + 1 lap
5. Castellacci – Flohr – Rigon (Ferrari 296), + 2 laps
6. Farfus – Gelael – Leung (BMW M4 GT3), + 2 laps

Vincent VOSSE, Team Principal Team WRT: « Qatar was a tough weekend. Finishing P12 and P16 in Hypercar, is not the result we were looking for but we gathered a lot of data and we have plenty of work from there. In GT, we did a strong race with both cars. Both crews did a perfect job in the pitlane for a first race in a new championship. Indeed, finishing P4 and P6 is a good result but it is not where we want to be. It is never a great feeling when you know that you have achieved a good race without any mistake but you still miss the podium. In the end, we missed some tools to fight for a higher-score so now let’s work and get stronger for the next race! »

Sean GELAEL, #31 BMW M4 GT3: « First race weekend of the season with the boys, first time for me in WEC with a LMGT3 but also for the team. It is not the result expected nor the one we wanted but I think it is still good points. We will run from there. In the end, this is not how you start but how you finish (at the end of the season). We’ve learned a lot here at the season-opener and now we need a cleaner weekend with again a strong strategy and it should be all good for Imola! »

Valentino Rossi – #46 BMW M4 GT3: « It’s a good start to the season as finishing P4 is quite good but it’s a shame to be so close to the podium. It was a perfect race for us with no mistakes, no track limits. The guys did an amazing job in the pits as well and we just missed a little bit of speed to make it to the podium. »

Dries Vanthoor – #15 BMW M Hybrid V8 : « For sure it’s not the result we were hoping for but in the end it was our first race and we know we still have some work to do. I quite enjoyed my drive, I think the car was quite enjoyable to drive so that’s a plus. We now know where to improve so we have to put our heads together and make sure we bounce back properly. »

Sheldon van der Linde – #20 BMW M Hybrid V8: « First race of the WEC season is done. Quite disappointing for the whole team to just miss the points in P12 with a completely clean race from outside and no real mistakes on execution. On the other hand, we have a lot more races to improve this year, with 7 more events so I hope we can make some big steps on the car. We are learning a lot with team WRT on our side so I think we have one of the best in the business to make huge strides for it. Big thanks to the team for the hard work these last few weeks for this first race in FIA WEC and without these guys we wouldn’t be here so thank you so much. »